Wolverhampton City Council: Laura Page
Our Heritage Open Days
I am the event organiser for Wolverhampton Heritage Open Days, co-ordinating around 28 venues who put on activities, talks and tours over the four day period in September. I collate all information, including images, from venues taking part and produce a booklet, of which 7,000 are produced and distributed around the city and surrounding area. Activities include a tour of Barnhurst Sewage Works, a spectacular tour of Bank’s Brewery, a historical talk and tour of the Disused Jewish Burial Ground, behind the scene tours of the Grand Theatre and Wolverhampton Art Gallery to name only a few.
Why we decided to take part
2013 will be Wolverhampton’s fifth year with Heritage Open Days. We first decided to become involved to highlight the impressive heritage we have in the city and allow the people of Wolverhampton to uncover the hidden gems right on their door step. It allows us to celebrate over a 1000 years of city history ranging from industry, sport, art, religion and much more. Year on year we have seen the demand for tours and talks increase, which has resulted in more venues taking part and more visitors to the area. We have also found Heritage Open Days creates a sense of community within the city and gets people involved in the prodigious free event.
How Heritage Open Days made a difference
Heritage Open Days has made a significant difference to Wolverhampton as it has given local people to explore the heritage of the city, their grandparents and great grandparents. We have made some great links with people in the community, press and radio as part of promoting the event and more people know Wolverhampton is established as a city.
It has also made a difference to me personally. Not being from Wolverhampton, it has made me realize all the great things the city has to offer. I am able to interact with a number of venues and meet people with a wealth of knowledge of their heritage.
Favourite Heritage Open Days moments
2012 saw the inclusion of Barnhurst Sewage Works in our Heritage Open Days programme, which was considered as quite a controversial move. However, theirs turned out to be the most successful tours of that year. As the organiser, I was able to go around the venues and meet the managers and visitors. The feedback I received as well as comments and suggestions for future years were really inspiring and it was humbling to know people were enjoying their Heritage Open Day experience.
Advice to first-time participants
Plan ahead! We started planning details of our open day in May, and had a very busy summer getting everything done in time. Whether you go big or small, being organised in advance will make it as easy as possible on the day. And keep smiling! It can be hard work, but when your site is full of people enjoying what you have to offer it’s completely worth it.